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Beyond birdwatching: 6 other fun things to do in LPPCHEA

Ever wondered what's beyond the lush mangroves along the coastal road in Parañaque? Apparently, an ecotourism spot on the rise - the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or LPPCHEA! This 175-hectare nature reserve is in the list of Ramsar's Wetlands of International Importance and a go to place for bird watchers! Aside from birdwatching, here are 6 alternative things to do there!

The Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) has been known to bird watchers and enthusiasts as a proper site to observe, photograph as well as study migratory and resident birds. But beyond birdwatching, visitors to LPPCHEA can enjoy temporary tranquility and other leisure activities too!

To those who are not familiar with LPPCHEA, it is the first critical habitat to be declared in the country, and the sixth Ramsar site in the Philippines to date.

If you see the stand of mangroves along Coastal Road when you travel to Cavite or down south, that place is part of LPPCHEA's sprawling 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem. It has two areas: the Long Island in Las Piñas and the Freedom Island in Parañaque. Breaking it down further, the 114 hectares are composed of mud flats, 30 hectares consist of mangroves, and about 2 kilometers by the beach area.

We had the chance to visit this place as part of the itinerary of the Media Familiarization trip to NCR initiated by Philippine Department of Tourism – Office of Public Affairs, Communications, and Special Projects (DOT-OPACSP). Other places included were: Malabon City for food and heritage tricycle toursSarao Motors Jeepney Factory, Bamboo Organ, Container Turf in BF Homes Parañaque.

Photo opp in Freedom Island trail with some fellow writers who took part in the media fam. trip to NCR. (L-R) Roger Pe of Business Mirror, Joel Andrada of Skin Care Addict, Carmela Nery of Seekertravels, Robertzon Ramirez of Philippine Star  

LPPCHEA is situated south of Manila bay along the coastal lagoon of Las Piñas. As I've mentioned, the LPPCHEA is known for birdwatching. But if you are wondering what other fun things you can do here, I have come up with 6 alternative things for you in case you visit this natural reserve!

6 fun things to do in LPPCHEA

Sir Teddy Pelaez reading LPPCHEA Freedom Island direction sign

1. Eco-walk in the Freedom Island

You won't probably get high on excitement (like I would), but your senses, definitely, would benefit from the walk along this nature trail. The tall trees, the fallen dried leaves, the fresh smell of the earth after the rain, and the seclusion altogether are calming. Thirty minutes here and you'd feel like a weeklong stress has been rid off your system!

2. Get acquainted with Philippine indigenous trees 

The Freedom Island nature trail showcases Philippine indigenous trees such as: Mangkono, Banaba, Narra, Kamuning, Aguho, Talisay, Molave, Neem Trees that deter mosquitos, Rubber trees, and my favorite Fire Trees, to name a few. In this trail, people (especially young people) can learn about these trees and see how they look like. 

3. Do a photoshoot in the Boardwalk

Perhaps people would easily identify this place called "Boardwalk" with LPPCHEA due to its unique characteristic. As far as I know, there's no other place in Metro Manila with a pathway like this—elevated and concrete that stretches along a scenic view of mangroves.

In the middle of the Boardwalk is a Nipa Hut where visitors can rest for a bit and while still enjoying the view of endemic trees and mangroves. Strike a pose here, photograph your OOTD against the earth colors, just remember to avoid wearing overly vibrant clothes!

Well... you can do better poses... but make sure to not wear anything too vibrant

How many species of mangroves are grown in LPPCHEA? At present, there are eleven (11): Bungalon, Bakauan Babae, Bakauan Bato, Pototan, Kolasi, Pagatpat, Banalo, Tabigi, Saging-saging, Buta-Buta, and Nilad. These mangroves are "critical spawning grounds, nursery, feeding and temporary shelter areas, not only to fishes but other wildlife species as well. They also act as barriers against storm surges and high tide for the coastal communities of Parañaque and Las Piñas" (LPPCHEA brochure).

4. Watch the sunset at the beach area

Sunset views are always amazing. If you happen to still be in LPPCHEA past 5 o'clock, then might as well enjoy the sky turn into the warm shades of gold and red. Be mesmerized by the view of Manila Bay during sunset and at dusk.

Some areas in LPPCHEA (esp the coastal area) still need a lot of cleaning

5. Take part in coastal clean up and tree-planting activities

If you want to make a difference and help in protecting LPPCHEA, you may participate in scheduled clean-up drives as well as tree-planting activities. Follow LPPCHEA's website or DENR-NCR official Facebook page for upcoming events.

6. Create memories in this nature reserve

Different experiences await you whenever you visit a place. It's up to you to turn these experiences into something great and truly memorable. In LPPCHEA, you can give yourself time to commune with nature. You can also bond with your family by seeing, listening to, smelling, admiring, and feeling the surroundings. Take lots of pictures. Or maybe this hearts' season you can propose marriage or propose a relationship to your beloved under the canopy of tall trees?!

LPPCHEA staff using a spotting scope to watch some birds

Quick tips and reminders for LPPCHEA visitors

Mr. Carlito Catañeda, the site manager of LPPCHEA, notes some tips and reminders for keen visitors:

1. Avoid bird attacks by not wearing bright-colored clothes inside the ecosite.
2. Don’t throw trash in the area.
3. Don't pick flowers, leaves or any planting materials from the area.
4. Keep noises down.
5. Take only memories! Leave only footprints!

Mr. Catañeda says there are laid-down plans to further develop LPPCHEA. These include the construction of a wetland center with a bird museum as well as the completion of the recently finished waiting area.

Artsy bird viewing deck in LPPCHEA

How to get there

LPPCHEA is still discussing with the DOT to consider a Shuttle Service for tourists going to the eco site.

For now, you may access the place via Cavitex. Refer to this site for detailed directions to LPPCHEA from the top locations in Manila using bus and train.

And since LPPCHEA is a protected area, you also need to coordinate your visit.  Please contact the Conservation and Development Division at (02) 435-2509.

Parting Words

There are interesting activities to enjoy in LPPCHEA - from birdwatching to a relaxing eco walk along the nature trail of Freedom Island to coastal clean up and tree planting. Truly, it is an ecotourism site on the rise!

But it was not always this way. Things are better now than they used to be before. Shout out to the government agencies, to advocates, to institutions, and to individuals who have toiled over the years and have continued to work to this day to protect and develop LPPCHEA. Above all else, preserving places like this brings us the benefits of a healthy and balanced ecology!

Visit LPPCHEA one of these days. You'd be proud and more than relaxed!

What do you think about this article? Have you been to LPPCHEA? If not, do you want to go there? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below! Thank you so much for your time! If you think this article would be helpful to or enjoyable for someone, please feel free to share! 



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The Girl with the Muji Hat: Beyond birdwatching: 6 other fun things to do in LPPCHEA
Beyond birdwatching: 6 other fun things to do in LPPCHEA
Ever wondered what's beyond the lush mangroves along the coastal road in Parañaque? Apparently, an ecotourism spot on the rise - the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or LPPCHEA! This 175-hectare nature reserve is in the list of Ramsar's Wetlands of International Importance and a go to place for bird watchers! Aside from birdwatching, here are 6 alternative things to do there!
The Girl with the Muji Hat
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